When COVID-19 meant businesses had to change the way they operated, most thought they were prepared with strong business continuity plans. Some were well-prepared and others found themselves scrambling to set up remote working capabilities to let employees work from home.
The new reality is that people need to be able to work from anywhere (#WorkFromAnywhere) without compromising productivity or security, while delivering a consistent and seamless customer experience.
Many organisations are heading back to the office as the COVID-19 threat recedes, but there is no guarantee that there won’t be a second wave of the virus, or another situation in which contact centre agents will need to be able to work from anywhere.
If you were one of the organisations that moved fast to put in business continuity measures to let contact centre agents work from home, you may now have had some time to breathe. You may be wondering whether the solution you chose to meet an emergent need is really the solution that will deliver maximum benefits to your organisation long term, when a work-from-anywhere approach is considered normal.
Quite possibly, the answer is no.
Cloud-based solutions are likely to dominate the future
Before COVID-19, the vast majority of contact centre workers turned up to an office every day where they were surrounded by colleagues and managers. The future of work is likely to look very different and may take on one or more of the following characteristics:
- most people working from home at least some of the time
- some people working from home most of the time
- split shifts that mean fewer staff members are in the office at once
- some workers going back to the office more or less full time.
This will create a strong need for flexible and agile systems that can support workers and managers regardless of their location.
Cloud is the only infrastructure option that will deliver the kind of flexibility and agility required to deliver a consistent and engaging experience for all staff members.
It improves the availability of applications and infrastructure, and removes the burden of management from the IT team.
Key benefits of a cloud-based contact centre environment
1. Cost savings
Cloud-based infrastructure removes the need to spend capital investments on infrastructure in the office and in people’s homes, should they choose to (or be required to) work from anywhere. With a cloud-based environment, the physical location of staff members becomes irrelevant, as everyone can access the same systems and applications regardless of where they’re sitting.
When employees work from anywhere, the physical layer of security that was provided when they worked in the office is no longer present. This creates a potential security risk for organisations that must be addressed. Contact centres tend to have a great deal of valuable information including credit card details and purchase history; this information must be protected according to the Privacy Act and other relevant legislation. Cloud-based contact centre environments, or contact centre-as-a-service (CCaaS), include built-in security features that maintain data protection, giving businesses peace of mind that valuable customer data will be safe.
3. A consistent customer experience
Customers interacting with the contact centre need to have a consistent experience regardless of whether the employee is in the office or working from somewhere else. That means information must be available at the employee’s fingertips and the business must be able to deliver a seamless experience.
Contact centre agents don’t just need a phone and a customer relationship management (CRM) system to work from anywhere. They also need access to knowledge bases, resources, colleagues, and coaches. All of these elements of the contact centre ecosystem feed into the customer experience. Cloud-based systems put that information at the fingertips of all employees no matter where they’re working from, delivering a consistent experience.
4. Transparency and an engaged workforce
When employees work from anywhere, it can be difficult to tell whether they are being productive, focusing on work, and delivering a strong customer experience. Using a cloud-based system with voice, text, and desktop analytics capabilities drives detailed insights on what employees are doing. It can reveal when employees are engaged with customers versus when they’re browsing websites, doing online shopping, or perusing social media platforms. It can also reveal areas where contact centre agents could benefit from additional training, for example.
With a cloud-based contact centre solution, artificial intelligence-based metrics can also be used to measure employee performance not just in terms of traditional productivity metrics but also in terms of the impact of customer-centric behaviours.
5. Better coaching for employees
Employees working from home don’t have the benefit of a nearby manager who can listen to their calls and provide advice and coaching in real time. This means coaching has fundamentally changed because it can no longer leverage the social capital that is created when coaches and agents interact face-to-face. This is a key area that needs to be addressed when employees work from anywhere. Workforce engagement and automated quality measurement solutions help enterprises identify the key improvement areas that need coaching.
With artificial intelligence (AI)-based metrics, managers can see if agents are listening and being empathetic, if they’re acknowledging loyalty, and if they’re building strong relationships. This approach makes it easy to see which agents would benefit from additional training and which agents are the top performers. Gamification can help deepen employees’ commitment to ongoing improvement. And these same tools must be available to employees in the office or at home to ensure consistency.
6. A technology-proofed contact centre
A cloud-based solution can help technology-proof the contact centre so that it can continue to provide exceptional experiences even as technology evolves, without having to invest in expensive, monolithic, on-premise upgrades. For example, the collaborative nature of work is expanding to include the customer. In this evolving field, cloud is the linchpin that makes collaboration, communication, and availability possible.
7. Digital twins to help employees be productive from day one
Some new employees may never have seen the office. Working from home for these people can mean that some things take twice as long. A digital twin, which acts as a virtual assistant, can help walk these employees through customer interactions, guiding them on the next best action, so that they can deliver a strong customer experience right from their first day.
From monitoring employee desktop activity to automating mundane tasks, digital twins participate in every key activity in the employee’s day.
What’s next for contact centres?
Digital transformation is happening now, and it’s happening faster than anyone imagined. Some statistics suggest that industry has achieved five years’ worth of digital transformation in just eight weeks.
For the contact centre industry, one of the biggest barriers to digital transformation has been an unwillingness or perceived inability to have contact centre agents working from anywhere. Now, organisations have seen that is a possibility, creating a new working reality for contact centres.
As your business emerges into the changed business landscape, your contact centre employees need to be able to work from anywhere or your business will risk not being competitive.
Agents need to deliver outstanding and consistent customer experiences, empowered by the right coaching and incentives, and supported by technology that automates parts of the customer service task to free them up for more complex and high-value interactions. This capability will be critical in any contact centre’s ability to reduce costs without compromising the customer experience.
It’s also essential to consider how to integrate new and emerging technologies, such as augmented and virtual reality, into the contact centre, with seamless compliance with industry regulation and best practice.
Cloud-based solutions provide the ideal answer for businesses looking to make their call centres more flexible and distributed, while improving the quality of the customer and employee experiences.
Discover how your business can work from anywhere
To find out how NICE cloud-based contact centre solutions can help your business #WorkFromAnywhere, contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.